Suns too hot for Blazers

Portland's magic number to clinch playoffs sits at 1

By Erik Gundersen, Columbian Trail Blazers writer

Published:

Updated: April 4, 2014, 10:43 PM

 

PORTLAND — Phoenix Suns coach Jeff Hornacek compared reserve wing Gerald Green to Vinny Johnson of the late 1980’s Detroit Pistons, saying that Green is next in line for the moniker “Microwave,” because of how quickly he can heat up.

Behind Green’s 32 points, the Suns kept themselves in a tie for seventh place in the Western Conference with a 109-93 win at the Moda Center on Friday.

For the Blazers, clinching a playoff spot will have to wait another night.

Green exploded in the fourth period, scoring 12 points less than six minutes, powering the Suns to a 20-5 run to start the final period.

“That’s what Gerald does, that’s why he’s a great guy to have on your team,” said Hornacek after the game. “When he gets going, you just kind of let him go. There are times when you’re going ‘uh-oh, what are we going to see next?’ ”

Green included an alley-oop to himself off the backboard — after he had nowhere to go — on his first basket of the fourth quarter in his highlight reel game.

“He just feels like nobody can stop him, that’s the kind of confidence he has,” added Hornacek.

“(Green) keep them in the game,” said Nicolas Batum, who finished with a near triple-double of 11 points, 11 rebounds and six assists. “If they have no Green tonight, I don’t think they come back.”

For the Blazers, clinching a playoff spot will have to wait another night, thanks to Green’s night and 30 points, seven rebounds, three assists and two steals from Eric Bledsoe.

This was a not playoff game but the Suns played like a team that had something to lose. That sense of urgency was embodied by their 23-13 advantage in offensive ­rebounds and a plus-4 advantage in turnovers.

The Suns took 16 more shots than the Blazers.

“I thought they definitely played with a little urgency. Any loose ball, they did a really good job of pursuing it,” said Robin Lopez who finished with 18 points, 13 rebounds and four blocks. “I really can’t stress it enough: They had more opportunities than us. They shot worse than us but they shot close to 100 times.”

The rebounds and extra shots were a concern but to Thomas Robinson, who grabbed 10 rebounds of his own, he can’t quite put his finger on why the Suns have dominated the Blazers this season.

“You can put that on the list. I just don’t know,” he said. “Something about Phoenix, man. They play good against us. They have great confidence, we can’t call it.”

Both teams were locked in from the jump with neither team taking a lead in double-digits. There were seven lead changes and nine ties in the first half alone and things continued from there in a nip-and-tuck affair.

The Suns picked up two technical fouls in the first half, one to point guard Goran Dragic and another on Marcus Morris. The tension had translated to emotion very early.

The Blazers also made their fair share of lazy passes, leading to 16 turnovers which gave the fast-paced Suns 15 points on turnovers.

“We blew it,” Wesley Matthews said. “They played like they wanted it more.”

Luckily for the Blazers, they can at least go to sleep at night knowing they won’t have to play this Suns team in the first round of the playoffs.

However, having had the opportunity to clinch ripped from their fingers like Bledsoe ripped away offensive rebounds from the Blazers, the playoffs are a touchy subject.

“I’m not going to talk about the playoffs right now,” said Blazers coach Terry Stotts.